Why is Clean Sport Important?

By Mario Fraioli

Citius. Altius. Fortius. Faster. Higher. Stronger. This has been the motto of the Olympic Games since 1924. These words, according to Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, “represent a programme of moral beauty. The aesthetics of sport are intangible."

Personally, this is what I’ve always loved about sport, whether it’s a running race, a basketball game or some other type of contest. There’s a purity to competition—the first runner across the line wins the race, the team with the highest score at the end of the game takes the title—that is easy to understand and appreciate, regardless of your own ability, background or interests. Beauty lies at the intersection of skill and strategy, and that’s a huge part of what makes sport so special to watch.

Unfortunately, this moral beauty, this purity of competition—from the Olympic level all the way down to the true amateur ranks—has been compromised for quite some time now. It’s no secret that cheating, specifically doping, is rampant across nearly every sport, at all levels, costing clean athletes medals or money (and sometimes both), casting all athletes–even the ones who are playing by the rules–in a negative light, while simultaneously losing the faith of other athletes, coaches, fans, sponsors and media alike because no one has any idea who to trust or what to believe anymore. 

This is why the Clean Sport movement is so important. A culture of transparency needs to replace one that has been poisoned by secrecy. Trust and belief need to be restored. Cheaters needs to be abashed, not encouraged. By creating awareness around the issues at hand and uniting in support of the ideals that Pierre de Coubertin outlined almost a century ago, change can happen. It needs to happen, otherwise sport risks entering a future where its aesthetics will become tarnished beyond recognition. As athletes, coaches, fans, sponsors and journalists, we have a responsibility to speak up and take action in order to restore and uphold the values of hard work, fair play and integrity that sport is grounded in, and will ultimately survive on.

Mario Fraioli has coached runners to personal bests, Boston Marathon qualifying times, national championship wins, Olympic Trials appearances, international podiums, world championship teams, national records, and even the Olympic Games. He is the creator of the morning shakeout email newsletter, author of The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training and former senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, Mario has raced competitively from the mile to ultramarathon distances. He is an ardent supporter of the Clean Sport movement.